Will the adults in the room please stand up!
One of the benefits of being Independent is that you can usually look at things in life and politics with an objective perspective. It’s often easy to get caught up in the talking points espoused by a particular political party unless, of course, you have little use for political parties or their elected officials.
Such is my view with respect to the most recent Omnibus budget that was rammed through Congress just prior to Christmas while most people were busy focused on the holiday and family. Considering that the Federal fiscal year runs from October through September you might question why a budget was being passed in December? Well, in typical fashion, our elected officials abrogated their responsibility and kicked the can down the road through continual spending resolutions until they reached a point where they felt it was in THEIR interest to put a budget in place. By the way, Congress hasn’t passed a budget on time since 1996! I guess passing budgets on time is not high on their priority list.
So, what was in this spending bill you might ask? Frankly, it’s difficult to know since the bill was in excess of 4,100 pages in length and it’s doubtful that anyone voting it into law actually read it – another common ploy of our elected officials. You know, ‘you have to vote for it if you want to know what’s in it’.
Here’s what we do know. The bill funds the government, including all government agencies through September of 2023. Approximately $900 billion is allocated for defense spending and as expected, obligatory programs such as social security, medicare etc. along with other more questionable programs are funded through non-discretionary spending totaling nearly $775 billion.
From a business perspective there is little in this bill that creates any major changes or consternation. While there are a number of changes made to retirement savings plans, most will have little impact on businesses offering such plans and instead will create additional flexibility for individuals to both save for retirement and to withdraw from retirement savings accounts without penalties, particularly in cases of need (i.e. medical expenses). Viewed through the eyes of most businesses, the provisions in the Omnibus will be seen as positive, particularly given the fact that there were no changes made to business taxation and the general tenet of the bill towards business is innocuous.
Although this is the case, what is not readily reported is the fact that this bill is yet another example of excessive and wasteful spending, particularly at a time when our elected officials should be tightening their belts given the current inflationary pressures being felt by both individuals and businesses alike. Instead, our officials continue to spend like there is no tomorrow and what is described as a $1.7 trillion dollar spending bill will actually cost much more when one considers that every dollar of spending not covered by tax receipts will require additional borrowing on the part of the government.
As it stands, America is already carrying 31 trillion in debt and past spending orgies by Congress will cause the US Treasury to bump up against the existing 31.4 trillion debt ceiling forcing Congress to either pass legislation taking the debt ceiling even higher or forcing the Federal government to cut spending. Keep in mind, the debt ceiling is the only thing preventing politicians from spending us into poverty. Maybe with a new Congress we’ll gain some fiscal sanity.
Also, remember, any new debt created by this Omnibus is no longer being issued at 0% interest. As a result, the debt service in relation to this bill has the potential to be enormous – potentially in the trillions. That’s trillions with a T.
A look at the chart below paints the picture quite clearly.
What's in the FY 2023 Omnibus?
Appropriations Bill FY 2022 FY 2023 Omnibus $ Increase % Increase
Agriculture $25.1B $25.5B +$0.4B +1.4%
Commerce-Justice-Sci $75.8B $82.4B +$6.7B +8.8%
Defense $728.5B $797.7B +$69.3B +9.5%
Energy-Water $52.9B $54.0B +$1.1B +2.1%
Financial Services $25.5B $27.6B +$2.1B +8.1%
Homeland Security $57.5B $60.7B +$3.2B +5.6%
Interior-Environment $38.0B $38.9B +$0.9B +2.2%
Labor-HHS-Education $197.0B $207.4B +$10.4B +5.3%
Legislative Branch $5.9B $6.9B +$1.0B +16.5%
Military Constr.-VA $127.6B $154.2B +$26.6B +20.9%
State-Foreign Ops $56.1B $59.7B +$3.6B +6.4%
Transportation-HUD $81.0B $87.3B +$6.3B +7.8%
Subtotal, Base Fnding $1,471B $1,602B +$131B +8.9%
Adjustments $26.2B $28.5B +$2.3B +8.9%
CHIMPs $15.0B $15.0B +$0.02B +0.1%
Total $1,512B $1,646B +$134B +8.8%
Memo: Total Defense $782.2B $858.4B $76.2B +9.7%
Memo: Total Nondefense$729.8B $787.4B $57.5B +7.9%
Sources: Senate Appropriations Committee, House Appropriations Committee, Congressional Budget Office, Office of Management and Budget, CRFB calculations.
So, ask yourself the question, are you increasing your spending or are you doing everything within your power to manage expenses in order to deal with current inflation and the poor economy created by the actions of the Biden Administration, Congress and the Federal Reserve?
It is totally irresponsible of our elected officials to increase spending in virtually all budget categories, knowing full well that spending like this will only create more debt (at higher interest rates) and make the inflationary pressures on American businesses and individuals even more severe.
Of course, the chart above doesn’t specifically call out some of the more egregious spending in this bill. As usual, there are a long list of earmarks where millions of dollars are being spent on total crap. While the list of these expenditures is too long to enumerate in this blog, my favorite happens to be the $3.6 million being spent on the Michelle Obama trail in Georgia. Really? Last I checked Michelle Obama could have easily paid for this directly instead of it being forced on the American taxpayer.
Maybe you’re a big fan of Michelle Obama and think the idea of a trail in her honor is worth the money. If that’s the case, what about funding for Ukraine? No doubt another controversial topic. The Omnibus Bill provides funding to Ukraine to the tune of $45 billion. You may also think this is fine, however, isn’t it strange that Congress actually provided more funding for Ukraine than was even being requested by the Biden Administration? Certainly seems odd to me. Makes me wonder if all of this money is really finding its way to Ukraine? Just saying.
The Omnibus bill is emblematic of the problem in Washington. The fact of the matter is that this particular bill was pushed through both houses of Congress for one simple reason – Republicans would be taking control of the House of Representatives in 2023 and had indicated they had no intention of funding much of this nonsense.
So instead of producing a budget that was reflective of the difficult economic times being experienced by American businesses and individuals our politicians decided it was more important to remove the power of the incoming House of Representatives and fleece the American people once again.
Who benefits from the Omnibus Bill? As usual, it’s not the American people. Only politicians, lobbyists and special interest groups stand to benefit while the American people are left with the bill.
Tired of this nonsense? If so, in addition to voting incumbent politicians out of office there is a way to lessen the damage being caused by lifetime politicians. It’s called the Article V Convention of States and it’s a movement of members of all citizens who are tired of the status quo. Article V of the Constitution provides a mechanism for the States to call for a Constitutional Convention to amend the Constitution. How do amendments for Congressional Term Limits and a Balanced Budget sound? If they sound good to you click here to sign the Article V Convention of States petition and begin putting pressure on your State legislators to call for a Convention.
It’s up to us to bring sanity back to our government and force our elected officials, regardless of party, to do what is in the best interest of the people and not themselves.
May God Bless America!
Next Up: House Rules